Vera Institute of Justice Supports New California Bill Which Seeks to Enhance California's Immigration Services Program to All

Sacramento, CA – On Thursday, February 1, 2024, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 2031, the Representation, Equity, and Protections (REP) for All Immigrants Act. This Act will enhance and expand access to immigration services provided across California for immigrants – regardless of the ability to pay, language, or past interaction with the criminal legal system.

In 2015, the One California (One CA) Immigration Services Funding program became the first state-based program in the nation to dedicate public investments for qualified nonprofit organizations providing education, outreach and legal services to indigent immigrants. Organizations that receive One CA funding from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provide critical legal services, including representation for children and adults facing deportation and services to assist Californians with applications for DACA, naturalization, asylum, and other immigration remedies.

In FY 2021-22, the One California program strengthened California’s safety net for immigrants by providing legal representation to over a thousand children and adults facing deportation and providing legal services to tens of thousands of Californians applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Naturalization, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and other immigration remedies.[1]

Although the One CA program has provided crucial access to legal services for California’s immigrant population, the program has failed to match California’s commitment to equity, as the program prohibits funds from being used to assist certain individuals who had past interactions with the criminal legal system. Further, CDSS has limited the types of eligible services, preventing funds from being used for interpreters, social services and litigation costs. As such, updates to the program are necessary to ensure service providers can more adequately serve all of California’s immigrant communities.

“For as long as I have been in state office, I have worked towards ensuring people are given a second chance and have championed efforts to prevent people from being treated as second-class individuals,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “The REP for All Immigrants Act ensures racial justice and truly equitable access to crucial immigration services for all – not some.”

AB 2031 will improve the One CA program by removing punitive exclusions to legal representation, expanding the scope of funded immigration services, and creating an advisory committee to ensure that immigrants and their families in California can access the legal services and resources needed to thrive. AB 2031 seeks to protect immigrant Californians by enhancing and expanding access to high-quality immigration legal services when applying for certain benefits or when defending their rights during deportation proceedings.

"Access to legal services for immigrants in California is not simply about safeguarding people's rights, it's about preserving the fabric of families and communities. California must remain a leader in protecting its immigrant communities and pass the California REP4All Act to advance universal legal representation for all people facing deportation, regardless of their interaction with the criminal legal system. The current criminal exclusion exacerbates systemic racism in the criminal legal and immigration systems. The Vera Institute of Justice is proud to co-sponsor the REP4ALL Act and grateful to Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer for championing expanded access to immigration services for immigrants across California." - Shayna Kessler, Associate Director for Advocacy for the Vera Institute of Justice's Advancing Universal Representation Initiative

“California is stronger when immigrant individuals at risk of deportation can remain together with their families in their communities. This is why the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) is proud to support and co-sponsor the REP4All bill that would ensure immigrant families have access to the legal services and resources they need to thrive with safety and stability – regardless of an individual’s criminal history. Publicly funded immigration services protect the most vulnerable families in our state and improve the quality of life of all Californians.”- Masih Fouladi, Executive Director at CIPC.

“We eagerly and proudly champion the protection of human rights, civil rights, and racial justice for all immigrants. The recent reintroduction of the REP4All bill is a significant stride forward, and we are proud to support this crucial legislation that plays a pivotal role in safeguarding immigrants from deportation, ensuring access to legal representation, and addressing racial injustices in California. CARECEN stands with all immigrants, recognizing that every individual deserves legal representation, security, and the chance for prosperity, regardless of their past history.” - Camila Alvarez, Legal Director at Central American Resource Center (CARECEN).

“Having access to an attorney is a fundamental due process right which is often the difference between a family being able to stay in the country and obtain immigration status or being deported. #REP4All will keep immigrant families together and stabilize communities, by ensuring that all immigrants in California have an equal chance to obtain legal representation.” - Krsna Avila, Staff Attorney at Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

AB 2031, the REP for All Immigrants Act, now awaits referral by the Assembly Rules Committee to policy committee.


About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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